Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Craft Blog is Dead! Long Live the Craft Blog!

Lucky you, today. I wrote this yesterday for BlogHer, got a couple responses there that made me think and formulate a response. Today, you get the article. Tomorrow comes my additional response.

Maybe it's just summertime, I think. Posting on craft blogs always slows way down in the summertime. That's the likely explanation.

Except the slowdown began way before summertime.
Except the slowdown includes blogs just going away.
Except the slowdown includes bloggers lowering blog posts because of book deals.
Except the slowdown includes a lack of interesting posts on the blogs that are there.

Which makes some wonder, is the craft blog dead?

Cara Davis of January One, was considering the same thing this weekend when she wrote KnitBlogs. New knitblog webring software was requiring everyone to re-register. From an active ring with firm rules, the ring has now dramatically relaxed its rules: only one knit-related post a month is required. Yet many of the original 1300 members will probably not join the ring or not qualify to join the ring.

But what does this mean?

It might mean that blogging has evolved beyond the "common interest" ring. Early in blogging, the blogrings were a way to find new members, to connect to those with common interest, to build that blog-community that we all rave about. Now, with RSS feeds do we really need blogrings? Is that the part of the formula that's become archaic?

For myself, I've got to say yes. I think I may belong to several rings, though I never click through one anymore. I have my quilting blogs in my BlogLines and Google reader; clicking through a ring to find something new takes too much time.

Davis suspects it's more than our simply outgrowing the "technology" of blogrings. Looking back over the past year, she believes that the dramatic shift away from a blog-based community began with the birth of Ravelry.
There are many many blogs on my bloglines list that post very sporadically and when they do, they blatantly say they've been on Ravelry. It's MY OPINION that the interesting discussions about knitting and projects that used to be on the blogs have moved over there - instead of many in-depth posts about a project we generally get one wrap up post that says the details are over on Ravelry. No doubt, Ravelry is an extraordinary tool in this community, but the social aspects of it have had a huge impact on what I loved about knitblogs.
The same thing has been written about Twitter and Facebook and Fill-in-the-blank-latest-social-media-site. Yes, it's easier to connect on one of these sites. On blogs, often we feel alone in the woods or lost among the masses. There seems to be no in between ground anymore. You write and occasionally get one or two comments, or you write and always get 50 or more. On a network sites there is the impression that you are always involved in the conversations and the community.

I'm not certain that this is indeed true, but is it even a valid observation? The comments (68 and still growing) keep the discussion going:

Amber summed up part of my feeling about the decline in craft(knit)-based blogs:
I think you're right that Ravelry has had a huge impact. In some ways though, I think that's good. A lot of blogs were just like here's the specs - and didn't really write about the process or their thoughts. Sort of like what one blogger once referred to as a "Cheese sandwich blog" (Dear Blog: Today, I ate a cheese sandwich. The end.) I felt like the same old big names were always writing the more involved posts everyone would talk about (I think that's still true); there's just fewer basic stats out in blogland.
"Cheese sandwich blogs"... I'm going to have to remember that. I've admitted that the draw for me in any craft blog is the author explaining their personal process. What they did, why they chose to do that one thing, how they feel about it's outcome. (If you need a great example of a knitting process blogger, look no further than Grumperina. All process. All the time. And one of the best damn knit blogs in my reader.) Many's the day that I click through 50-100 blog posts searching for that one unexpected process post without success. I used to find them all the time. Now, frequently I find a simple "Here it is. I finished project XYZ." No thought, no analysis. Simple news.

BeadKnitter was the first to state the other main argument, that lives change and blogs change with them:
Blogs change because peoples lives change. There are blogs that I used to read religiously that I don't even visit anymore, and new blogs that I new read religiously. It's part of the human condition. Everything changes. Nothing stays the same.

As for Ravelry being to blame for this, I disagree with that. The blogs I stopped reading didn't change because of Ravelry. They changed cos the authors life/interests did.

Alice points out another problem with knit blog successes:
Another factor is purely commercial. A lot of the most popular bloggers have gotten book contracts. Design details that might previously have been discussed on their blogs are now saved for their books.

KnitNut's Wool & Words,took the discussion to her blog with The KnitBlog is Dead! Long Live the KnitBlog! She mentioned another factor missing from many knitblog communities that was like ants at a picnic 2 years ago: The Knit A Long (KAL). I had noticed a decided gap in KALs on blogs, but thought I was just missing them somehow. Perhaps not.

However, in one of the clearest distinctions between her interaction on Ravelry and her reading/writing of blogs, however, she states (emphasis, mine):
The blogs I read are the ones where I feel a connection to or have an interest in the personality of the blogger behind it. I go to Ravelry to find the information I'm seeking about projects, yarns, patterns, communities. I go to blogs for people.
So lives change, the internets change, successes change. It all leads to a decrease in quantity or quality of blogging. We shall see if this is a temporary or permanant change. While Davis acknowledges her own blog has changed dramatically in the last year with a pregnancy and the birth of her daughter, I sense we all believe that eventually she will return to blogging obsessive series of posts on mitred squares and we will check back through our readers for every word.

What do you think? Have you seen a decided change in the craft blogs recently? Do you believe that other social media sites have taken some of the action? Or is it just life coming between the blogger and the page? And who are the new bloggers that are replacing those that have left?

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

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